French School Board Scraps Plans To Start Year Early

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / zurijeta.

Some local students can breathe a sigh of relief as their school board has decided to cease plans to start the year a week early.

Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which has 20 schools throughout Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex areas, presented a plan that would have started school a week before Labour Day and given students and teachers an additional week off in late October or early November.

The director of education, Joseph Picard, said parents and teachers were consulted to see if it was a viable option. The votes were pretty well split down the middle as Windsor-Essex voted 52% in favour and CK 48% in favour.

Picard said one of the biggest factors was transportation costs. While there was no increased cost in CK, Picard said it was significant elsewhere.

“In the Windsor-Essex area they have a combined transportation so there would be financial consequence with a week difference,” Picard said. “I think it’s approximately $170,000 difference and the board has to look at things like that.”

The director of education added another factor was concerns about how the community calendar lined up with the board’s. Picard said communities usually have events going on when schools are off and parents find it easier to get sitters during those times. According to Picard, when the schools in his board have time off that other schools don’t, it tends to complicate things.

“We try to line our calendars up with those of other schools boards, but it is almost impossible because they are all done individually,” Picard said “Communities tend to gear their events towards the PD Days of the two large English language boards, so when we have different PD Days, there is seldom things planned in communities.”

Picard said his board will be trying to work closer with other school boards next year to try and have as similar schedules as possible.

He added the premise around starting the year a week early and giving an additional week off during the year was improving students and teachers mental health by creating a more balanced school year, which would result in less stress.

Picard said the board isn’t scrapping the idea altogether though, as one area responded very positively to it.

“The area that stood out was Owen Sound where 68% of people who responded were in favour of the modified school year,” Picard said. “The level of answers we received weren’t very high though, so we will be consulting again in the fall before making an official decision.”